Is your Holiday House Rental Legal?

Hundreds of central coast holiday home-rentals have been exposed as unlawful by a recent court decision.

A court has found that renting out a home in a residential zone for short-term holiday letting is prohibited and in breach of planning laws. The decision hinged on the interpretation of what uses are permissible in a residential zone of the Gosford Council but will equally apply in other local government areas if their local environmental planning provisions are similar.

The case involved a home in the tourist suburb of Terrigal which had been let out for short-term stays, for example, over weekends, and was often host to loud, late-night parties, buck’s and hen’s parties etc. The situation became unbearable for the neighbours who complained to the council, which did not do anything about it. The neighbour finally brought a case against the landlord.

The court found that a ‘dwelling’ under the planning scheme required some level of permanence of habitation or occupation. The use of the house for buck’s and hen’s parties was not consistent with its use as a dwelling house as required by the zoning for the area. However, the court noted that some short-term stays may nevertheless satisfy the definition of a dwelling house, for example holiday houses that are used exclusively by a family for a limited amount of time each year, or even time-shared between several families, and houses that are owned by a company and rented out to executives and their families for short durations.

As a result of this decision, many homeowners who rent homes out to holiday-makers are now open to potential civil or criminal proceedings for their actions, depending on the zoning and planning regulations in the area.

Please call us at Foulsham & Geddes if you think your property might be affected by this decision. If you are looking to buy property with the intention of renting it out on short-term leases, you should make this clear to the solicitor so appropriate checks can be made.

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